Hoffer’s Statement on the Auditor’s Call for a $100,000 Outside Audit of the Overtime Issue

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Posted on August 8, 2012 in Press Releases

[07.25.12]

Recent disclosures regarding the alleged State Police timesheet abuses have generated considerable interest, including by our State Auditor. Today’s Free Press reports that Tom Salmon intends to pay $100,000 for an outside audit. This is curious.

First, in response to reports of “spiking” in overtime hours for Jim Douglas’ security detail, Mr. Salmon requested information from the Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) in February 2010. The DPS Commissioner provided budget data and explanations about the causes of overtime in different areas of the Department. Mr. Salmon sent a follow-up request for information in January of this year and the Dept. sent updated data. That was the extent of the Auditor’s investigation of the issue.

This information is contained in a “Situation Report” released by the Auditor’s Office on March 12, 2012.(1) It is noteworthy that a “situation report” is not an audit. Indeed, there are no professional standards for a “situation report” because it is not even mentioned in GAO’s Government Accounting Standards. As is noted in the March 12 document, the Auditor’s Office does “not validate the information provided by organizations” in the report. That is, the Auditor’s Office never requested or reviewed source documents.

We can never know with certainty, but it is at least conceivable that the alleged abuse now under investigation might have been uncovered two years ago had the Auditor’s Office conducted a more formal audit or review, rather than a “situation report.”

Finally, the suggestion that the issue now requires an outside audit costing $100,000 is troubling. The budget for the Auditor’s Office this year is $3.6 million. There are numerous skilled auditors and other staff in the office (some earning more than the Auditor) so one wonders why Mr. Salmon needs to look outside and why it should be so expensive (the equivalent to one experienced staffer spending an entire year on this one subject).

As Auditor, I will not waste time with so-called “Situation Reports” and will make much better use of the fine staff in the Auditor’s Office.

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